Helping with homework is just one of Dad's many jobs. Fathers' roles have changed a lot over the years. When I was a kid — yes, to many that was back in the olden days — my dad's main job was to have a job. All the day-to-day parenting duties fell to mom. Nowadays, though, fathers who live with their children are taking a more active role in caring for them and helping out around the house, according to Pew Research Center. Home-based fathers: Among the 8 facts about American dads discussed in Pew's Fact Tank feature is that more... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service wants the money you owe. It prefers you pay your taxes on time and in the conventional manner. But Uncle Sam's tax collector is not averse to working with delinquent taxpayers so that it can get the due taxes without an undue hardship on the debtors, such as via an installment payment plan. There are, however, limits as shown in two recent U.S. Tax Court cases. Within weeks of each other, two companies on opposite sides of the country, found their efforts to pay their very large tax bills over time overruled for basically the same... Read more →


Among the flags celebrated on Fun With Flags, the online show within a show in CBS' The Big Bang Theory, was Old Glory. (Photo of Amy Farrah Fowler play by Mayim Bialik and Jim Parsons, who played Sheldon Cooper and Betsy Ross, courtesy Sheldon Cooper presents Fun With Flags Facebook page). Happy Flag Day! Long-time readers of the ol' blog already know that June 14 is an extra special day for me. It was my younger brother's birthday. One of my fondest memories of him was when as a preschooler he thought all the U.S. flags were flying in his... Read more →


Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee (top row, center), is looking to renew at least some expired tax provisions, known as extenders. The ranking Republican on the House tax-writing panel, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas (top row, right) is not impressed with Neal's proposal. (Photo courtesy House Ways and Means Democrats Facebook page) Is it finally the end for extenders? Yes, no or maybe, depending on who you ask. Many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle say enough is enough with the perpetually renewed technically temporary tax breaks known as extenders. They... Read more →


June 17 is the deadline this year for the second installment of 2019's estimated taxes. It's just one mid-June deadline that millions of U.S. taxpayers face. June 15 is a major tax deadline. Except for this year. For 2019, June 17 is the next red-letter Tax Day. That's because the 15th falls on Saturday, meaning that the usual due date moves to the next business day. A couple of extra days are nice, especially for folks who like to wait until the last minute. But don't get too comfortable. Here are three tax situations which require millions of taxpayers to... Read more →


Things that are never good: an unexpected envelope from the Internal Revenue Service. That's the assessment of one of my personal finance writer pals. Today, she's working to clear things up in connection with one of those mailing she got from Uncle Sam's tax man. It's not a fun exercise, but it's definitely one you should undertake if you disagree with an IRS decision. In fact, the IRS own Taxpayer Bill of Rights covers this situation in several of its tenets. Specifically, I'm looking at every taxpayer's right to: Pay no more than the correct amount of tax, Challenge the... Read more →


Checking out food bank offerings. (Photo by Michael Losch-KOMUnews via Flickr CC) All of us here in Texas, especially lovers of Mexican beers and avocados, are breathing a bit easier now that the threatened tariffs on our Southern neighbor are, for now, off the table. The Chinese trade situation, however, is still simmering. As that standoff continues, American shoppers are paying higher prices for many consumer goods. That's because tariffs essentially are taxes. The higher prices we're already seeing due to the Chinese charges could go up even more if the self-proclaimed Tariff Man holds firm in his belief that... Read more →


James Holzhauer's epic winning run on Jeopardy finally came to an end, leaving him with winnings of almost $2.5 million. The take fell just short of the television game show's record winnings, but neither Holzhauer nor the tax collectors who'll get a nice chunk of the cash are complaining. James Holzhauer finally learned you can't win 'em all. It's been a good week for gamblers. For tax collectors, too. A 66-year-old North Carolina retiree came forward to claim the $344.6 million Powerball drawing, which he won thanks to numbers from a fortune cookie. A yet-to-be-announced lottery player in San Diego,... Read more →


Although the June 7 jobs report showed that U.S. unemployment held steady at 3.6 percent, its lowest level in nearly 50 years, wage growth also was slow. That might help explain this week's Saturday Shout Out article from MarketWatch that one-third of Americans say they need a side gig to pay expenses. "A lot of people are working side hustles because even though the economy is strong, wages are stagnant," Amanda Dixon, an analyst at Bankrate, told MarketWatch. "For a lot of Americans, expenses are rising, but there are no raises at work." Side gigs include everything from working as... Read more →


April 15 came and went without you. You didn't file your annual Form 1040. You didn't send in an extension request to get six more months to file your return either. And you definitely didn't get around to sending the Internal Revenue Service the balance of the tax you owed on last year's income. Hey, I'm not judging. Things happen. But if you don't want to have to fork over even more cash to Uncle Sam, then you better get to work on your 2018 tax return and get it to the IRS soon. June 14 soon. After that date... Read more →


My mother is almost 85. She's no Betty White, but all things considered she doing darn well. Especially when it comes to cognition and attitude. She listens to an audio book a week, keeps up with the news and her favorite TV game show (Jeopardy) and doesn't take any guff from unsolicited callers trying to sell her stuff. Or worse. Unfortunately, that latter instance is not the case for many in my mom's demographic. A recent Marketplace series examined how the aging brain may become more susceptible to financial scams. Among the findings, data suggest that as we get older,... Read more →


Thousands gather for a service at Lakewood Church in Houston, one of many megachurches often led by prosperity gospel evangelists. As since biblical days, religious leaders and governments continue to jockey over rendering unto the tax collector. (Photo by ToBeDaniel via Wikipedia Commons) Religion and taxes are inextricably tied together, primarily because religious groups that pass Internal Revenue Service muster don't have to pay taxes. But some religious leaders have gotten extra attention lately for, shall we say, the extravagant ways they seek to serve their god. Private jet is biblical: Televangelist Kenneth Copeland, who in 2015 defended his use... Read more →


Why yes, that is a bill you just got from the Internal Revenue Service. And like all past-due notifications, the sooner you take care of it, the better for you and your bottom line. The IRS is mailing letters or notices, including CP14s and CP501s, to taxpayers who filed their returns on time, but did not pay the tax that was due at that time. The notifications, most of which are going out in June and July, let the recipients know that they have a tax balance due. To minimize the associated non- or underpayment penalties, the IRS recommends that... Read more →


June is one of the most popular months to get married. Why? Some point to the weather. Peak spring thunderstorm season has passed. Temperature wise, it's warm, but not hot (unless you're in Texas, but that's another post). Ditto with humidity, meaning that June is one of the better months for an outdoor wedding. Then there's matrimonial history. The early Romans gave us Juno, the goddess protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing. So a wedding in the month named for Juno was, and still is for many, considered most auspicious, notes the... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service did do away with two versions of Form 1040 and shortened, a bit, the lone document we now use to file our annual tax returns. But the tax agency went the other way with Form W-4. This form, officially titled Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. is what we give to our bosses to ensure that the correct amount of income taxes come out of our paychecks each pay period. Now instead of a brief, 10-item form, the IRS' W-4 proposed revision takes up a full letter-sized page. And while there are just seven boxes to fill out,... Read more →


Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee when his party pushed through tax reform in December 2017, celebrates in June 2018 the six-month anniversary of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A new Congressional report, however, doesn't have much positive to say about the new tax law's first-year economic effects. During the rushed, ahem, debate of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) in late 2017, its Republican sponsors touted the bill's economic benefits. The cuts to U.S. businesses would prompt more domestic investments. Workers would get bonuses and/or raises. This would speed up the... Read more →


Things have changed dramatically over the years when it comes to medical treatment and ways to pay for it, including various health insurance options. (Photo by Billy Black via Flickr CC) Costs are a major consideration in deciding on a health care plan. Many folks deal with the expenses by choosing a high deductible health plan, or HDHP, and opening an associated health savings account, or HSA. As the HDHP name indicates, you're responsible for paying a deductible that's larger than many traditional medical insurance policies before the coverage takes effect. In exchange, a HDHP has much lower monthly premiums.... Read more →